Activist and political commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson talks racial tensions

By Max Schwartz

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | Photo by Angela Hoffman

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | Photo by Angela Hoffman

Activist, author, columnist and political commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson called in to The Hot Seat to discuss his background, the case of Marlene Pinnock and the broad issue of racial tension in the United States.

The case of Marlene Pinnock, the woman who was beaten by a California Highway Patrol Officer, is in the news again because her attorney, Caree Harper, was held in contempt of court. Host Max Schwartz and Hutchinson disccused the issue of Harper making $600,000 from the Pinnock case, the resignation of the CHP officer involved and changes the agency has put into place. The two also talked about the results from the changes that have already been put into affect, and they talked about the remaining reforms Hutchinson expects the agency to make.

Schwartz and Hutchinson also talked about racial tension in the United States. Two key points of the discussion were the starting point for increased racial tension in the recent past and the reasons for the current racial tension.

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Community stepping in to help family of tragic Inglewood shooting

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News

imageAs the Lamas-Jimenez family begins to wade through the dust from a tragic shooting at their home early Saturday morning, community leaders and police departments have begun raising money for the surviving members of the family.

In the predawn hours of Saturday morning, a man broke into the Lamas-Jimenez home on the 4900 block of W 99th Street in Inglewood and opened fire on the family of six.

The father, Filimon Lamas,33, and his 4-year-old son both died as a result of the attack.

Tuesday morning, a vigil of more than a hundred candles, flowers and cards, had sprung up on the sidewalk outside of the family’s home and a half dozen neighbors were paying their respects.

Lamas’ sisters thanked the community for the overwhelming support Tuesday morning and said they were still in shock over their brother and nephew’s deaths.

imageVictim advocate Lita Herron consoles Emma Lome and Carmen Hernandez three days after the tragic shooting that took the life of their brother and nephew in Inglewood on Saturday, October 20, 2012.

“Seeing all of this, I’m happy for my brother because I know he deserves it. I know he was a hero,” said Emma Lome, Lamas’ sister. “God wanted him in heaven.”

His wife, Gloria Jimenez, 28, and two other children were also shot. They remain in stable condition. Only an 8-year-old boy who hid under his covers was not hurt.

According to the Los Angeles Times, investigators are working to confirm the identity of a body found in a burned down bungalow behind the family home.

The bungalow was being rented by Desmond John Moses, who police believe to be the shooter. An autopsy, that is expected to conclude early this week, should determine whether or not the body is that of Moses.

The Lamas family says Moses was upset over being evicted from the home and he may have blamed the Lamas-Jimenez family.

imageThis burned down bungalow home was being rented by Desmond John Moses, who is believed to have shot his neighbors before setting his home on fire and shooting himself in the head.

Meanwhile, community leaders and police have begun raising money for the family with two separate funds.

Civil rights activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson is helping the family cope with the aftermath of the tragedy. His organization, the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, is donating $250 to the family fund.

“Any time you have this kind of violence, any time you have this kind of tragedy, that affects a whole family and children, it is nothing but a monumental tragedy,” Hutchinson said.

He is urging others to donate as well, saying that the financial burden of victims is often forgotten.

Additionally, Doors to Heaven Global Ministries on Manchester Boulevard in Inglewood is offering prayer and counseling services to the family and community members.

Another of Lamas’ sisters, Carmen Hernandez says the children are the family’s top priority. She said the children have stopped talking about what happened and asked if they could go to school this morning.

“We’re a big family … there are a lot of nephews and they are around and they’re almost always playing,” Hernandez said. “I think that it has been helping them a lot.”

Lome and Hernandez are hoping that their sister-in-law and her children will return home from the hospital this week.

Donations to the family can be made in the following ways:

Lamas Family Donation Fund
Account No. 5223
ICE Federal Credit Union
1 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90301

Wells Fargo Fund
Account No. 4122412588
13545 Hawthorne Blvd., Hawthorne, CA 90250

Redistricting changes for South LA one step closer

imageAfter what turned into a nine-hour-long meeting on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Redistricting Commission has moved one step closer to solidifying major changes to the city’s council districts, including those in South Los Angeles.

The commission voted Wednesday night to move the Leimert Park and Baldwin Hills area out of Councilman Bernard Park’s 8th District, and into District 10, represented by City Council President Herb Wesson.

Additionally, Councilwoman Jan Perry lost most of Downtown Los Angeles from her 9th District, including the financial district, Little Tokyo and the Civic Center. Under the new boundaries, District 9 retains only the Staples Center and L.A. Live.

The commission also moved the University of Southern California out of Park’s district and into Perry’s.

All of these moves, which were opposed by the majority of public comment at Wednesday night’s meeting, could serve to further impoverish South Los Angeles, said David Roberts, the 9th District’s representative on the commission.

“It becomes more difficult, especially in the case of Downtown, opportunities to leverage resources from a more affluent, wealthier (area) to south of the 10 Freeway,” said Roberts, who opposed the changes to Districts 8 and 9.

In short, by losing Downtown, Perry’s district becomes one of the poorest districts in the city and will no longer be able to afford much of the redevelopment she has been able to accomplish in the past.

One such example is the South Los Angeles Wetlands Park that opened last week, which was funded in part by resources generated from Downtown, Roberts said.

The case is similar in District 8, which is losing its most thriving economic area to District 10.

“(Leimert Park and Baldwin Vista) are the wealthiest parts of the district … not only economically, but politically too because this is where the Black middle class is,” said Earl Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable. “So you’re essentially lopping one of the parts of the district that has economic and political clout.”

Blighted communities in South Los Angeles, in both the 8th and 9th districts, are at great risk for losing resources that fund not only redevelopment of the area but social programs, as well.

“I think there is reason for deep concern on the part of the elected officials and constituents in these areas,” Hutchinson said. “The greatest concern is that we in fact will be even further marginalized at City Hall. Our needs, our wishes have not been taken into consideration by the commission.”

In an ideal world, communities like South Los Angeles, should benefit from where district lines are drawn because resources are allocated evenly, giving underserved communities a greater voice, which is crucial now that the Community Redevelopment Agency has been closed down.

“The CRA used to take care of the issues of blight and poverty, but those tools don’t exist anymore to improve the quality of life for those very vulnerable residents,” Roberts said. “And South LA is where those issues are most acute.”

The map approved last night will be available online Saturday. The next schedule hearing is Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. at Los Angeles City Hall.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson on youth violence

The fatal beating of 16-year-old Derrion Albert was caught on video. The videotape shocked the country, and President Obama sent Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Chicago to discuss new policies to prevent youth violence. Annenberg Radio News reporter Timothy Beck Werth speaks with Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a Los Angeles author and civil rights activist.

Visit Earl Ofari Hutchinson’s blog at: